A saying popularized in the late '60s and early '70s by Dr. Timothy Leary, Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out was never a statement about working against society. Unfortunately for Dr. Leary and the movement behind him, the press and conservative powers took it to mean "get fucked up and sit in hippie circles talking about peace, man."

In reality, the saying means:
  • Turn On - activate your neural and genetic equipment, in other words, use your mind and body, explore your mind and body.
  • Tune In - interact harmoniously with the world around you, in other words, live and be peaceful, explore yourself and others peacefully.
  • Drop Out - take an active, selective and graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments, in other words, leave what makes you unhappy or what prevents you from exploring yourself fully and instead seek what brings you peace.
Thanks to Dr. Leary's personal website, leary.com, now maintained posthumously, from which the above definition is taken. For more info on Dr. Leary, read Timothy Leary.

For AP English today, our assignment was to write and deliver to the class a speech to the graduates. Most people wrote typical speeches about how much they will miss their classmates or how we need to seize the day (A big theme of this year's English class). This is my go at the speech, which is anything but typical.

Node your homework!

Graduates of 2002, parents, friends, and the teeming masses lining the red carpet - shut up and listen.

The motto of our parent's generation was "Turn on, tune in, drop out." To them, this was a call to turn on your minds, tune in to what was happening, and drop out of this current warped system. They saw problems with the way things were, and they wanted to remold that broken society for the better. To them, those words were a call to activity, and to activism.

Today, 35 years later, this slogan is equally applicable. Though the facade of the words remain, their inner workings, the phrase's meaning, has changed. Today, America's youth could not possibly care less about the environment. Today, America's youth have no interest what-so-ever in social issues. Today, America's youth are completely ignorant of the country's political situation. Our parents should be ashamed of us.

The words that inspired our parents to activity now represent our apathy. The collective America has turned on the TV, tuned in to the shallow dribble that populates it, and let their brain drop out the back of their head. The American has become ignorant of its environment, preferring to live in a contented, scripted bliss.

Graduates of 2002, you must break this pattern.

By sheer luck, we have been afforded some of the greatest opportunities in history. By being born in America, we possess more liberties and rights than any other population since time began. But with the freedoms listed in the 1st Amendment, come comparable responsibilities. We have the freedom to criticize the government, and we have the duty to do so most scathingly. We have the freedom to observe the inner workings of our political machine, and we have the duty to do so frequently and persistently. We have the freedom to vote, to have a say in our governing, and we have the duty to do so faithfully, and intelligently.

Most of you are, or will be shortly, eligible to vote. With the granting of that right, you assume the obligation to participate in your own manipulation. In the last presidential election, barely half of the voting population fullfilled this obligation. In the last French presidential election, 80% of those eligible to vote did so. Newspapers commented on the low turn out. What is a poor turn out for them is over 150% of the American one - And we invented this system.

It is not enough simply to vote; voting is worthless if it is not an informed act. With the chance, the freedom, to have a say in the government comes the responsibility to justify what you are saying. Votes must be cast based on information and rationale, not whim and emotion. I know one person who claims she would have voted for Bush based solely on that she thinks he is cute. She is proud of the fact that she would have used up her single voice on such a petty and worthless consideration. This, the selection of the leadership based on superficial concerns, is a dangerous attitude which, from what I have seen, is rapidly spreading across America.

Ladies and gentlemen, if we do not choose our government, someone else will. Big Business is more than willing, indeed chomping at the bit, to bend Congress and the Presidency to its sole and singular good. They have already made some headway in this goal, in the form of restrictive legislation such as the DMCA and the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, laws which benefit only billion dollar corporations such as Disney and Fox. These companies have bought their way into your government. The American people must make a concerted effort to break free of the anesthetizing programming designed to mold the country into a docile mass that will let these companies have their way with America. We must take back this country, this Nation by, for, and of the people.

"As we all know, the security on the vast majority of the internet's component computers is terrifyingly flawed at best and non-existant at worst..."

Ordinarily, Ed would give the introductory speech to a newly-completed software-related project of his in the short period of time while his computer boots up. Unfortunately, we recently got hold of a computer which, for reasons best left unelaborated-upon at this point, boots up completely before you can even let go of the power stud, so this kind of ruins the moment.

"I was vaguely aware of this," I say to Ed. We are standing in front of Blues, which is what we decided to call the new machine. It's a brand new model, top of the line. Specs of a machine you wouldn't expect to be around for another twenty years. (Don't ask.)

"So it was relatively easy for me to allow my most recent project, which takes the form of a worm, to work its way through to roughly a hundred million different PCs."

"Worm, what worm?"

"Just chill, it's nothing dangerous. And it self-destructs right afterwards, leaving no harmful traces on anybody's computer."

"Then why have you spread it around so far?"

"For fun. Because it's what I do. I had this crazy idea while watching The Matrix one time, and it kind of snowballed."

Ed gets crazy ideas a lot. That's not unusual; most of us get a crazy idea at least once a day, it's what keeps the world spinning. The only problem is that Ed has a) an obsession with hard science fiction, meaning when he gets a crazy idea, he gets a CRAZY idea and b) almost supernatural engineering, scientific, technological and programming ability, meaning that he is rather good at putting his crazy ideas into practice.

I'm trying to teach him how to avoid letting them "snowball", as he describes it, but my own curiosity gets the better of me almost every time. I mean, who wouldn't want to help build and pilot a giant robot against an army of marauding aliens? Did I already tell you about that? I think I did.

"And what crazy thing does it do?"

"No one can be... told what the worm does..."

"Skip it."


I take a seat. I am nervous, but not scared; for Ed is crazy, but not homicidal. And he doesn't usually make mistakes. Well, not often. Well, there was that-

"You ready?" Ed reaches in front of me and types something at the command line. "I'm activating the worm all over the world simultaneously."

"Will this hurt?"

Ed thinks about this one for rather longer than I would have deemed necessary. "No," he concludes.


The program runs. Prompt onscreen.

Attention all users.
We are now undergoing scheduled downtime.
You will be logged out for one minute
and then logged back in automatically.
Your work will not be lost in the meantime.
Have a nice day.






*logging out*

Screen goes to b/w static. "Is that-" I begin to say to Ed.

Then ALL MY VISION goes to static. I turn my head, but every direction I look it's still static, like my optic nerve just crashed. The static soon turns to plain blackness. A pleasant female voice in my ear whispers, "You have been logged out. Please wait sixty seconds until reinsertion. Thank you."

Suddenly the sensations on my skin change. I'm not sitting in an office chair anymore - more like I'm floating upright in warm water. I thrash about a bit in shock and hit something hard and concave with my knuckles. Ouch. I open my eyes. I'm in a tube, a glass cylinder of thick green liquid, lit from below. There's some sort of tube attached to my mouth, feeding me oxygen. There's a pair of white-coated scientists outside the tube, with clipboards. Taking notes. I reach forward towards them and touch cold glass. The scientists stare back impassively. I look to my left and right, but the room is hidden in darkness. The cylinder is capped off at the top - no way to climb out.

Ed, what the hell did you just log me out of?


A blink. A flash. Back in the chair. Back in front of the computer. Back in the real world.

Ed is behind me, saying, "Did you like it?"

I stutter, not quite sure whether I've woken up yet. "What WAS it?"

"Data, encoded into the static. I found you could program someone's sensory responses at a distance using a kind of pseudohypnotic-"

I raise a finger. "Ed, you're making up words again."

"Sorry. It's a bit like hypnosis. Hypnotic suggestion. It goes straight past the eyes and straight into your brain. I could make up any scenario I wanted."

"That's insane! And you just did that to a hundred million different people simultaneously?"

"Well, nearer ten million..."

"And you just conned all these people into believing that they had... that they were brains in vats? Being subjected to an artificial reality?"

"No con involved. For those sixty seconds, that's what they were."


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